Microsoft Azure Information Protection Is Data's Personal Bodyguard

After snapping up Secure Islands last year, Microsoft debuts a data security technology that follows enterprise data wherever it roams.

Microsoft Azure Information Protection

Microsoft wants to help enterprises keep a lid on sensitive information, particularly when it's being viewed, edited and shared on iPhones and Android tablets.

Last November, Microsoft acquired Secure Islands, which protects business information by embedding security directly into files as they are created. Now, more than half a year later, Microsoft is unveiling a new offering called Azure Information Protection based on the technology.

"When we acquired Secure Islands six months ago, our goal was to continue to innovate and further expand our already comprehensive information protection capabilities for customers," Dan Plastina, partner director at Microsoft Information Protection, said in a June 22 statement. "To date, our engineering teams have made incredible progress in combining Secure Islands' industry-leading data classification and labeling technology with Azure RMS, and we expect to have a public preview of Azure Information Protection available next month."

Azure RMS, short for Azure Rights Management, is a policy-based information protection service that uses Microsoft's identity management technologies and encryption to prevent unauthorized access to a file's contents. Like Azure RMS and Microsoft's mobile device and application management offering, Enterprise Mobility Suite, the newly announced Azure Information Protection is another example of how the Redmond, Wash., software giant is taking an identity-driven approach to securing enterprise data, according to Plastina.

When it ships later this year, customers can use Microsoft Azure Information Protection to imbue files with protection the moment they are created or modified. Using a classification and labeling system, organizations can automatically apply protection based on a file's source, its content or the context in which it used.

Those protections follow data as they move from a business' servers or cloud services to their workers' mobile devices, added Plastina. For example, while sharing files with colleagues or external partners, a document's owner can specify who can access its contents and whether those contents can be forwarded or printed.

Given that Microsoft's own productivity software ecosystem factors prominently into how many businesses create and manage their enterprise content, Azure Information Protection will be integrated into Office, enabling content authors to bake in precautions from the outset. Plastina said customers can expect one-click data security options that are accessible as users work on Office files, along with notifications that steer them toward safe security practices.

Azure Information Protection will also enable content authors to keep an eye on how their files are being shared with monitoring and management capabilities that include rights revocation options. Finally, an assortment of "bring your own key" options provides organizations with complete ownership of their cloud-based and on-premises data protection strategies.

As for how the impending release of Azure Information Protection will affect current Azure RMS customers, Plastina said they "will continue to use the same capabilities with no change to their service until the General Availability of Azure Information Protection later this calendar year, when they will begin to receive expanded capabilities."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...